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Cooking the Ultimate Burger with Chef Drew

Written by Drew Brown, Director of Food Service at the J

There are few things to be mindful of when you are making burgers, here is what stands out as most important to me:

  1. Temper your red meat for 10 minutes or so at room temperature. This will allow the meat’s juices to start to loosen and will lead to a better grilling experience. (Never do this with poultry).
  2. Start with quality ground beef, look for a minimum of an 80/20 blend. 80% meat to 20% percent fat ratio. I look for a 90/10 blend of ground sirloin or chuck-and get very good results every time.
  3. Season liberally. For every 4 to 6-ounce burger you should use almost a full tablespoon of spice. I patty the burgers out, let them rest and then coat both sides of the burger with the rub right before going to the grill.
  4. Make sure your grill is very hot. It should be between 500-600 degrees to start with.
  5. Have all your side dishes and toppings prepped ahead of time. Once you start to grill, you need to stay at the grill the entire time. Many grilling mistakes happen when people walk away from the grill.
  6. Get and use a probe thermometer during the grilling process. They are great to have and it helps simplify the cooking process.
  7. Let your red meat rest a few minutes after it comes off the grill. This allows time for the juices to expand back into the fiber of the meat. If your burgers or steaks are too dry, it is likely that you are skipping this critical step.
  8. Start on the hottest part of the grill and get nice grill marks on the burgers, about two minutes on each side. Then move to the coolest part of the grill and finish to your liking. (See the chart below).

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Burger Seasoning Mix

  • 1 TBSP Smoked Paprika
  • 1 TBSP Sweet Paprika
  • 1 TBSP Chili Powder (I prefer Ancho or Guajillo.)
  • 1 TBSP Granulated Garlic (Or garlic powder – just not garlic salt.)
  • 1 TBSP Granulated Onion
  • 1 TBSP fine (Or coarse if you prefer.) Kosher Salt.
  • 1 TSP Table Grind Black Pepper
  • 1 TSP Ground Coriander
  • ½ TSP Red pepper Flakes (Optional – I like spicier flavors. If you don’t, you can leave this out.)


In a small bowl or Tupperware container, mix the ingredients together thoroughly.


Enough for 8 – 10 Burgers or Steaks

How to Use a Probe Thermometer:

  1. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on calibrating it correctly. If you have a digital thermometer you do not need to do this-they come calibrated.
  2. Make sure the probe is inserted into the center of the meat at its thickest point. Put the meat on a plate and then take the temperature because if you use the thermometer while the meat is on the grill you will not get an accurate reading.

Red Meat* Cooking Chart:

  • Rare: 120 – 125 Degrees F
  • Medium Rare: 125 – 130 Degrees F
  • Medium: 130 – 135 Degrees F
  • Medium Well: 135 – 140 Degrees F
  • Well: 145 Degrees F and rising

*This chart is only appropriate for red meats

The man behind the meals: Drew Brown is the Director of Food Service at the J. He is a graduate of Cincinnati State, The University of Cincinnati, and received his Master’s degree from The College of Mount Saint Joseph. He is the Chef-Owner of Spice Spice Baby Cincinnati, and his recipes have won multiple awards in cooking competitions around the Tri-State. Drew is the Founder of Avon Miami Charities, a charity that prepares and distributes more than 10,000 meals a year to local homeless shelters. 


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